ARMM starts checking presence of mayors in troubled towns
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The move is in compliance with a directive from the Mindanao martial law administrator, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, for ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman and governors of provinces outside the autonomous region to monitor closely the participation of non-performing local executives in Malacañang’s counter-terrorism campaigns.
Copies of the directive, issued on January 8, were distributed Thursday by the ARMM’s Bureau of Public Information to media outfits in the autonomous region.
Hataman, chairman of the regional peace and order council, said Friday he will mobilize the provincial personnel of different ARMM agencies to check on the “obligatory presence” of local officials in their respective towns and on how they are serving their constituents.
“Obviously the purpose of the directive of the martial administrator is to ensure that local government units in troubled areas are functioning efficiently. I agree, only good governance can address violent religious extremism. That is something we have been trying to do in the regional government since 2012,” Hataman said.
He said the Office of the Regional Governor, touted as “Little Malacañang of ARMM,” has operational control over provincial offices of the public works, health, social welfare, agrarian reform, natural resources, education and local government departments whose personnel can be tapped to help observe local officials in troubled towns.
Lorenzana’s directive also asked Hataman to watch closely the presence of his provincial officials in the ARMM provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, both in mainland Mindanao, and in the scattered islands of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
The autonomous region also covers the cities of Lamitan and Marawi, the administrative and political capitals of Basilan and Lanao del Sur, respectively.
The two-page directive from Lorenzana implied the need to stop habitual absenteeism among local officials for their LGUs to efficiently address domestic peace and security issues resulting from poor governance.
Some mayors in Lanao del Sur have been subject of criticisms for failing to prevent the expansion of the Maute group which started only as a fledgling Islamic State-inspired terror cell in Butig town in the province.
The founders of the Maute group, Maranao siblings Omar and Abdullah Maute, and all of their five brothers were killed one after another during their May 23 to October 23 siege of Marawi City.
The conflict, which left more than a hundred soldiers and terrorists dead, left Marawi City in ruins and dislocated more that 300,000 innocent villagers.
Highly-placed Maranao sources said only a few from among the 39 mayors in Lanao del Sur overtly supported the pacification efforts of Gov. Soraya Alonto-Adiong and Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra during the five-month conflict for fear of repercussions.
“Many of them helped but very discreetly, afraid of getting the ire of the Maute group. That is not how mayors ought to be. Our governor and Mayor Gandamra were there all those days despite the risks.
Many mayors in Sulu, known as the most dangerous and politically-troubled province in the autonomous region, are also being bashed for habitual absence from office.
Police and military officials said many mayors in Sulu resides in Zamboanga City in Administrative Region 9 and manages their respective LGUs from their houses there.
Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said Friday he wants local officials in towns where centuries-old settlements of non-Moro ethnic Tedurays are being harassed by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters since last month also monitored closely.
The BIFF uses the black Islamic State flag as revolutionary banner.
“These LGUs must be monitored. Local officials have a sworn duty to do their best in maintaining law and order in their turfs based on powers vested upon them by the Local Government Code,” Mangudadatu said.
The BIFF’s deadly incursions in the Teduray ancestral domains forced more than 2,000 natives to relocate to makeshift evacuation sites in safer areas.
They are surviving on relief provisions from the office of Mangudadatu and the ARMM’s Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team.
Hataman said he and Mangudadatu are to discuss in a meeting soon the governance problems in the conflict-stricken Maguindanao towns.
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